The first 11 Quaker families first came to Costa Rica in 1951 from Alabama because four Friends had been jailed for refusing to serve in the Korean War and the families were seeking somewhere they could live in peace.
Costa Rica had abolished its army and the government was encouraging foreigners to come and develop the land. The Monteverde area was only accessible by oxcart when they first came.
The families purchased over 3700 acres of land to be divided between the families. The Friends helped each family build a house.
They set up Monteverde Friends School, completing the main school building in 1957. Today it is a bilingual school serving the local community – both Quakers and local Costa Ricans – from pre-school through to high school. There is also at least one foreign exchange student who also lives with our HomeStay family.
The Quakers set up a dairy farm and the Monteverde Cheese Factory, which today produces over a ton of cheese a day. They were also farsighted enough to set aside an area on the mountain slopes as virgin cloud forest – high altitude forest cooled by moist air from the Pacific. The preserved area was the beginning of conservation in the area which now has a number of reserves including the Children’s Eternal Rain Forest (Bosque Eterno de los Niños) which was started by a Swedish child who had visited the area and went back home to raise money to purchase land for a reserve. That has grown to 54,000 acres of land.
Area reserves are
- Monteverde Cloud Forest (original Quaker land)
- Curi-Cancha Reserve
- Bosque Eterno de los Niños Fascinating story about how this reserve was started by some children from Sweden in 1987 and has grown to the largest reserve in Central America!
In addition to these large reserves, there are other commercial businesses that are preserving the area with tours and ziplines, etc.